Like many of us, I wake up every morning sore and achy.
It takes about a half hour before I feel normal again, and can walk around without soreness and stiffness.
I thought this was purely related to my ongoing insomnia, but I’m now thinking that a big chunk of it might be the way that I’m sleeping.
There are primarily four different positions you can take when sleeping at night:
- Sleep on your back.
- Sleep on your side.
- Sleep in the fetal position.
- Sleep on your stomach.
The order I’ve listed them is also their preferred order according to people (like doctors and physiotherapists) who know about pain and posture. Here’s a run-down of each of the positions.
Sleeping on your back is the position recommended for everyone. If you use a fluffy pillow that supports your head and neck (but doesn’t elevate them too much) you will create a great sleep posture for your spine. As your head is above your stomach, this position is good for acid reflux as well. Unfortunately, back sleeping is not very good for snorers. Sleeping on your back will cause gravity to act on anything that could obstruct your airway during the night. That obstruction causes vibration – and we hear that vibration as snoring. If the snoring seems excessive to you or your partner, get checked out for sleep apnea.
Next to sleeping on your back, sleeping on either side is next best. You’ll need a firm pillow that fills the space between your shoulder and the side of your head. When properly fitted with that pillow, you will have your neck and spine in good alignment. This position also removes most of the gravity component of snoring, and should allow you to breathe freely during the night.
Snorers should sleep on their side.
Fetal Position Sleepers
This position is basically modified “side sleeping”. The reason it’s third on our list is twofold:
- Because your back is curved, your spine is out of alignment.
- Because of your position, it’s difficult to breathe from your diaphragm – so you shallow breathe all night long.
Sometimes (pregnant women?), this is the only position you can get comfortable in. If it is, try and see how far you can stretch out before discomfort.
Aim to be as straight as you can, so your back isn’t so curved.
To best describe what’s going on when you sleep on your stomach, try this simple thought experiment.
Imagine looking to your left for fifteen minutes straight. Then look to your right for another fifteen minutes. Now do this alternating for seven hours.
That’s basically what you’re doing all night long if you sleep on your stomach. Because your back isn’t supported, your spine is out of alignment. In addition to this, all your major organs have the extra weight of your back on them all night as well.
Although I fall asleep on my side, I find often that I wake up and I’m on my stomach. This is likely the reason I wake up sore and creaky every day. I’m going to make a point of acknowledging when I’m on my stomach, and care enough to change my sleeping position throughout the night.
Before chronic insomnia affected me, I would often fall asleep and wake up on my back, having never really moved during the night.
Those days were absolutely pain free….